Discovering the past

Karima and Amira take a trip to Tipaza (also spelled Tipasa), a fishing port on the Mediterranean coast west of Algiers.

Tipaza has a long history. Between the 6th and 2nd centuries BC, the Phoenicians had a trading centre here, using the port for shipping out African goods.

Taken over by the Romans in the 2nd century BC, the town was used as a base to conquer much of North Africa. As the guide explains, this region was known by the Romans as Mauritania and stretched across present-day Morocco and western Algeria. (The modern-day country of Mauritania much further to the south derives its name from this ancient Roman kingdom).

The well-preserved ruins of the Roman town include a forum, two temples, a theatre, large amphitheatre and baths. Amira is amazed by the Roman ruins, which she didn’t even know were here.

After Christianity became established in the Roman Empire (in the second half of the 3rd century), a large basilica with seven aisles was constructed here in the 4th century, as well as other churches, chapels and a Christian cemetery.

Tipaza fell into decline in the 6th century, but the ruins and mosaics to be found here show what a wealthy and important place it was in the early part of the first millennium.